Iraqi Parliament Passes U.S.-Iraq Basing Pact; U.S. May Have to Leave by May 2010

November 28, 2008 | Last updated: July 31, 2020

A Thanksgiving present from Baghdad: the Iraqi parliament has passed the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) ending the war by 2011. Or, as AFP reports, possibly by May 2010.

According to AFP, the SOFA’s passage comes thanks to the Sunni-mollifying proposal to hold a popular referendum in 2009 that gives the Iraqi people a chance to essentially move up the SOFA’s deadline for a 2011 U.S. troop withdrawal. The final parliamentary maneuver was to move the schedule for that referendum up to May 30, 2009. What’s that mean?

Should the Iraqi government decide to cancel the pact after the referendum it would have to give Washington one year’s notice, meaning that troops would be allowed to remain in the country only until May 2010.

That would be… give or take a few days… why, 16 months after President-elect Barack Obama takes office! Happy Thanksgiving from Baghdad, Barack!

Iraq has come quite a long way since Thanksgiving 2003. Or, rather, the U.S. has, since all we’re doing is letting the Iraqis decide their own fate, as we always should have done. And I would guess that if the referendum question is something like “Do you want the U.S. to withdraw immediately, notwithstanding the SOFA’s 2011 schedule?” and there aren’t weird rules for negation — like, with the constitution, it would fail if two-thirds of the vote in any three provinces was a vote against — that referendum would pass overwhelmingly.